Over at The Washington Post's Class Struggle blog, Jay Matthews, extols the virtues of New York City's eight-year-old plan to create so-called "small schools of choice." These roughly 200 non-selective schools, which serve 80,000 students, are geared towards specific career paths, such as writing, law, business, etc., and sprung up to replace 20 shuttered high schools. Matthews believes that, in contrast to charter schools, this system is a more effective way of turning around instances where public education has gone frighteningly awry.
His recommendation stems from the findings in a new report from the research organization MDRC: In the first year that the schools operate, serving only 9th graders, they boost on-time graduation rates from 48.5 percent of students to 58.5 percent. That leads to an improvement of nearly 7 percent in overall graduation rates, which, the MRDC says, eliminates a third of the gap between white and minority students. And among those who benefit the most from the system is the historically difficult to reach "male high school students of color" demographic.